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Police release lists of missing Swedes

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10:45 CET+01:00
For all The Local's coverage of the tsunami catastrophe in Asia, click here.

The lists of Swedish citizens who are still missing following the tsunami which struck South East Asia on December 26th were released at 8am on Wednesday.

The decision to make the names public was made on Tuesday afternoon by Sweden's Administrative Supreme Court, after the news agency TT had appealed against an earlier decision not to reveal the names.

Journalists gathered at the National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) in central Stockholm to receive a copy of the names, while members of the public will be able to get the list from their local police station.

"But people should bear in mind when they pick up the list that it is a work in progress which is being updated daily," said Anders Fällgren, a lawyer at the NCID.

Other countries, notably Norway, had published the names of their citizens who were missing to great effect, quickly narrowing down the search as people who were still alive made themselves known to the authorities.

But despite this, the Swedish government and police argued that the people themselves or relatives could suffer from their names being made public. The main fear seems to have been that the homes of families who were missing would be broken into.

Nevertheless, the Swedish authorities were strongly criticised by the media for their refusal to release the lists.

On Tuesday the Administrative Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the two lower administrative courts and ruled that the names can be made public.

Although two of the court's five judges thought that the lists should remain confidential, the majority's view was that it would not be "an infringement of integrity" to publish names, personal numbers and home town.

"The information that a person was at a popular holiday destination for Swedes over the Christmas holiday and was affected by a natural catastrophe is not of that type," wrote the court in its judgement.

"Such information must typically be regarded as harmless," it went on.

However, according to Expressen there are six people on the list with so-called "protected identities". Their names have been removed.

So far only 43 Swedes have been identified and confirmed dead. However, the lists show that there are still 522 Swedes missing.

"There could still be changes but we believe that the variations on this won't be too big," said police inspector Kjell Sahlsten, who is responsible for checking the lists.

He told Dagens Nyhter that the number could still rise as there was still a large amount of evidence to be checked.

"It will probably be about a month before we dare to speak about definitive numbers," he said.

For the full list published by Svenska Dagbladet, click here.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, TT

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